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Community Health PIER Helps Bridge Gap Between Community & Healthier Lifestyle in the Mississippi Delta Region

Last updated Tuesday, May 14, 2024 13:49 ET

Community Health PIER is a nonprofit organization in the Mississippi Delta region that seeks to improve health outcomes, particularly with regard to HIV/AIDS, nutrition, and mental health.

Greenville, Mississippi, 05/14/2024 / SubmitMyPR /

Piers are valuable structures in areas with large bodies of water, as they allow people to access offshore areas or board water vessels, acting as a bridge between land and boat. It’s this imagery that the nonprofit organization Community Health PIER (CHP) evokes in its name and actions, helping bridge the wide gap between the community and various health resources in the Mississippi Delta region. Pier stands for prevention, intervention, education, and research, which are the organization’s four pillars of action and an integral part of its mission.

Cedric Sturdevant, co-founder of Community Health PIER

The organization was founded in June 2017 by brother and sister team Cedric and Gloria Sturdevant after they observed the huge health deficiencies among the population of the Mississippi Delta region, which is majority Black and among the poorest in the United States. According to Cedric, many of these health issues affected them personally or their family. Cedric is a person living with HIV, and in 2006, had a near-death experience due to AIDS complications. One of their aunts, a long-time mayor of a small town in Mississippi, had a heart attack, and one of their uncles died of cancer.

Gloria’s background included agriculture, mental health, and life coaching, while Cedric’s is in HIV/AIDS advocacy and nonprofits. In the 2000s, Cedric volunteered for various HIV-related causes and, in 2008, joined a nonprofit in Jackson, Mississippi. He uses his background as an openly gay, Black man living with HIV in various public service campaigns, spreading knowledge and awareness of the virus and reaching out to the community, which is often forced to live in the shadows due to the stigma they face. He has also been featured in the documentary “Deepsouth”, which focuses on the plight of individuals living with HIV in the Deep South, as well as an article in the New York Times Magazine.

One of CHP’s main programs is the “Get To Know Me” Stop The Stigma campaign, which brings awareness to HIV-related stigma through social and traditional media, education, and billboards. It reaches out to various organizations, such as schools, churches, and workplaces, and provides various information and resources regarding HIV/AIDS and possible ways to avoid and manage the disease. These include access to rapid HIV testing, condoms, and peer groups that allow members to share knowledge and provide emotional support to each other.

Aside from HIV/AIDS causes, CHP also provides agriculture training and maintains food pantries and community gardens, as a way to increase food security in the community, especially with over 500,000 people in Mississippi dealing with hunger. The Watch Us Grow program, spearheaded by Gloria, gathers middle school and high school students and connects them with a farmer who is able to share agricultural knowledge with them, enabling them to grow various crops to augment their and their families’ diets with fresh produce. Gloria’s advocacy centers on providing tools to improve the community via workshops, training, relationship building, locally sourced foods, and strong partnerships.

Other CHP programs include the Black Gay Men Movement (BGMM), which helps Black men access comprehensive career development and health education, as well as places them with a professional mentor. The ICare Support Group provides an avenue for women to share, discuss, and advocate for issues impacting women in the community, and the Chat & Chew program is focused on educating and elevating the voices of young Black Gay, Bisexual, Queer, and Same Gender Loving Men through advocacy and community service.

Over the years, CHP has interacted with various sectors of the Mississippi Delta region in various areas, establishing itself as a force for good, in alignment with its vision to become the premier community-based organization promoting health equity and providing tools for healthy lifestyles across the Deep South. In August 2023, Gloria passed away tragically and suddenly, leaving Cedric in charge of the organization. However, he is not alone in this, as he is supported by a capable team, including CHP’s Board of Directors and various employees and volunteers continuing the good work that Gloria left behind.

The late Gloria Sturdevant, co-founder of Community Health PIER

While CHP is doing all it can to alleviate various community problems in the Mississippi Delta, these problems are deep-rooted and systemic, and require much more resources and genuine societal change to be solved. Interested parties can donate to Community Health PIER to help amplify its efforts contributing to stronger and healthier communities in the Mississippi Delta and beyond.

Media Contact:

Contact: Cedric Sturdevant

Email: [email protected]

Original Source of the original story >> Community Health PIER Helps Bridge Gap Between Community & Healthier Lifestyle in the Mississippi Delta Region